HEREFORDSHIRE now has a "constant" need for new foster carers some of  whom could keep children from being placed out of the county - as 21 are so far.

Those 21 are amongst 244 children currently in the care of Herefordshire Council as "looked after".

That figure covers the range of  potential placements of which fostering is one. Others are kinship (a placement with wider family), supported lodgings, and residential care.

Jo Davidson, the council's director of children’s wellbeing, said the need for new carers was now as "constant" as the number of children coming into care.

Homes that can host teenagers and keep sibling groups together were a specific priority, she said.

This week, the service is out and about challenging perceptions of the work it does and who it works with.

The campaign runs in tandem with Foster Care Fortnight and its theme "Guess who fosters?"

Yesterday (Wed) the campaign came to Hereford's ASDA store, today (Thurs) its at the High Town Farmers Market until 3.30pm.

Sainsbury's hosts the campaign next Wednesday (May 21) and Belmont Tesco on Monday, June 9.

The service is also running an open evening at Moor House, Widemarsh Common, from 7pm to 9pm on Monday (May 19).

Just over a year ago the service went from a "good" OFSTED rating to "adequate" as inspection criteria got tougher - especially over administration and data collection where the key recommendations for improvement were made.

The service was, however, recognised as running steady and recognised as well managed through significant restructuring that had taken place since the previous inspection in 2008.

Management, social workers and foster families alike were identified as working well together with a consistency apparent in both supervision and practice.

Overall, the children and young people involved were positive about the care they received under a county policy that promoted living within a family setting.

Then, the service supported 171 fostering households caring for 136 children and young people.